Ears burning, Coppin turns it on, 79-66 Mitchell's halftime words spur team over Del. State

January 04, 1998|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

DOVER, Del. -- Fang Mitchell's patience was wearing extremely thin.

Coppin State had played its worst game of the season in its HTC previous start against Sam Houston State, and the game against Delaware State had started like it would be a replay.

So, Mitchell made what guard Danny Singletary labeled "a pretty intense speech" at halftime yesterday, and the Eagles soared to a 52-point second half and a 79-66 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference victory.

"It was one of the most aggressive speeches I've had to make this year," said Mitchell, whose team has beaten the Hornets 14 straight times. "I reminded them that there is no room for laxity.

"This is not a team as talented as we were last year, so we have to win with defense. We have to recognize that we're not just going to roll into your gym and win. We've become everybody's big game."

The victory ended a three-game losing streak for Coppin (4-6, 2-0 MEAC). Of their 10 games, the Eagles have played only one at home.

Delaware State was inspired and effective during a first half in which it allowed Coppin only six field goals, had an 18-10 rebounding advantage and capitalized on the Eagles' flatness and Antoine Brockington's foul trouble, which kept him sidelined for more than nine minutes.

Singletary and forward Fred Warrick were out of a revamped starting lineup, with Jerel Seamon and Troy Lewis inserted, but it was attitude, not personnel, that accounted for Coppin's weak start.

"We had to come out and match their intensity in the second half," said Singletary. "We came out a lot more fired up."

Stringbean forward Barrington Clarke led Delaware State (2-6, 0-2) to a 39-27 halftime lead with 15 points.

But after the break, the Hornets were forced to scramble to find a way to get the ball to the basket against Coppin's trapping, zone defenses.

"We lost our concentration," said Delaware State's first-year coach, Jimmy DuBose. "We spread the floor a little too much and played right into their hands."

The Eagles made a spurt to within 46-44 before a technical foul against Brockington provided the impetus for Delaware State to again stretch its lead to eight.

But then the Hornets collapsed, committing 18 second-half turnovers of their game total of 30.

Two free throws by Singletary (19 points) gave the Eagles their first lead, 55-54, with 6: 51 to play, and the steamroller began to pick up speed.

Singletary climaxed a 20-2 run with a jumper in the lane to make it 64-54, and Delaware State never got closer than nine after that.

Brockington played just 27 minutes, but finished with a game-high 25 points. Together, he and Singletary hit 22 of 23 from the foul line. That and the Hornets turnovers were the differences.

"Whether we're playing in front of 500 or 15,000, we've still got to play like it's our last game," said Singletary.

"This team has been involved in a lot of tough situations in some really big arenas," said Mitchell. "They had to respond like they did today."

! Pub Date: 1/04/98

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